Shohei Otani is expected to be come the next great Japanese baseball player to come to Major League Baseball. Otani, only 18 years old, has tremendous speed on his fastball but, according to scouts, needs work on his command. Coming to the United States is a big dream of Otani’s, but it may be halted a bit because Otani was selected by the Nippon Ham Fighters first overall in the NPB Draft.
With Otani being drafted by the Ham Fighters, he will not be able to sign a contract with a major league team until April 2013. This does not necessarily mean that Otani will sign a contract with the Ham Fighters because Otani is still going to pursue a career with a team in the United States.
Shintaro Fujinami was also selected in the NPB Draft by the Hanshin Tigers. Fujinami’s name came up in rumors talk Wednesday because some major league scouts prefer Fujinami over Otani due to his command. It is unknown as to whether or not major league teams will pursue Fujinami.
If Otani does not sign with Nippon, major league teams will not have to bid on negotiating rights with him. They will, though, have to be subjected to international spending restrictions.
The Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers and even the New York Yankees have all been named as possible teams to be interested in Otani. The Los Angeles Angels are not interested in Otani and will no pursue him this offseason.
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